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A Family Friendly Guide to Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia, PA is a city full of rich history, great food, and plenty of family friendly attractions, making it the perfect destination for a weekend getaway or week long trip. You will find many great historical things to do with kids as well as plenty of options for family fun. Here is what you need to know about visiting Philadelphia:

What You Need to Know About Philadelphia

  • 1-If you are planning on visiting some of the historic sites (such as Independence Hall) make sure you get an early start. While admission tickets may be free, they are handed out on a first come first serve basis. So if you get there after all the tickets have been handed out you are out of luck. (***Note: You can pre-purchase tickets at a very small price***)
  • 2-Parking is Expensive! Like any major city, you will have to pay for parking. There are parking garages located throughout the city, but they do tend to fill up very quickly. Street parking can add up very quickly and much of it is limited time parking (2 hours) so we had to keep returning to our car to insert more time.
  • 3-Take advantage of Philadelphia’s Phlash. The Phlash is a public bus system that operates daily from 10am to 6pm from May through September. The Phlash stops at many of Philadelphia’s main attractions and the price is great-$2 per ride and $5 for the day. This is a great alternative to trying to drive around the city and racking up those parking prices.
  • 4-Bring good walking shoes. There are many attractions that are located nearby each other and that are walkable from one to the other. You will be on your feet a lot throughout the day so bringing good walking shoes will make the experience much better.
  • 5-Pay attention to the signs. Throughout the city you will come upon blue signs at multiple locations that outline the history of that location. If you are not paying attention you could miss something significant.
  • 6-If you only have a limited time in Philadelphia don’t hesitate to take a tour bus. It will allow you to see a good portion of the city as well as many of the key attractions in the city in a limited amount of time as well as allow you to choose where to get off and what to skip.

Family Friendly Attractions in Philadelphia

  • 1-Please Touch Museum
    • A children’s museum that features two floors of interactive exhibits designed to get kids involved and thinking all while having the time of their life. This museum is best for kids 7 and under.
      • Hours: 9am to 5pm most days and 11am to 5pm on Sundays.
      • Cost: $19.95 per person, $3 for carousel rides
  • 2-Philadelphia Zoo
    • Visit the first real zoo in the United States, home to almost 1,300 hundred animals. The zoo features many activities to get the kids involved and learning about the animals while taking advantage of technology as well as passageways that visitors can observe the big cats walking through up above.
      • Hours: 9:30am to 4pm during winter months and 9:30am to 5pm during warmer months
      • Cost: $24 for adults, $19 for children 2-11, and reduced pricing in the winter $16 a person.
  • 3-Franklin Square
    • Franklin Square is one of William Pen’s original five squares that today is full of fun activities for children, including a miniature golf course, a carousel, and playground as well as great food options. The park also features a water fountain with dancing water effects and colored lights.
      • Hours: Varies depending on the time of year, but most days is open 10am to 9pm, be sure to check for hours prior to your visit.
      • Cost: Mini-Golf: $10 for adults and $8 for kids 3-12; Carousel: $3 per person
  • 4-Adventure Aquarium
    • Aquarium featuring over 15,000 aquatic animals. The aquarium offers unique attractions including a 3D movie, touch exhibits, and a shark bridge.
      • Hours:The aquarium is generally open 9:30am to 5pm.
      • Cost: Adults are $31.99 and children $21.99 for children 2-12
  • 5-The Franklin Institute
    • The Franklin Institute is a science museum and research center. The museum offers programs and shows throughout the day as well as escape rooms to put your mind to work.
      • Hours: 9:30am to 5pm
      • Cost: $23 for adults, $19 for children 3-11
  • 6-Spruce Street Harbor Park
    • Spruce Street Harbor Park as much to offer, including a boardwalk, hammocks scattered throughout the park for relaxation, The Oasis (which features floating gardens), hanging lights that bring the area to life after the sun goes down, and traditional Philly food.
      • Hours: The park is generally open 11am to 11pm, with extended hours on the weekends until 1am. Restaurant times vary, check before you go to make sure your chosen restaurant is open during your visit.
      • Cost: Free
  • 7-Sesame Place
    • Visit this Sesame themed amusement park and spend the day enjoying characters, shows, rides, water fun, great food, and a walk down Sesame Street.
      • Hours: Sesame Place is subject to the weather, therefore is closed most of the winter, opening in April for their Easter celebration. The park is open from 10am to 6pm most days, but due to varying times be sure to check before your visit.
      • Cost: $60.99 for ages 2+, with an option for a 2 day pass for $70.99
  • 8-TreeTop Quest Philly
    • This attraction, better suited for older children, but children as young as 4 can participate. It allows the whole family to jump, climb, and zip through an adventure course specifically designed for their age.
      • Hours: Vary, be sure to check their website before visiting
      • Cost: Varies by age, but ranges from $20 to $52
  • 9-Legoland Discovery Center
    • If your child is a lego lover this is the perfect place for you! Dive into the world of lego and experience 10 different play areas, a 4D cinema, character experiences, and Lego Ninjago training camp. The center also hosts special events throughout the year.
      • Hours: 10am to 630pm Mon-Thur., 10am to 730pm Fri.-Sat., and 10am to 6pm on Sundays
      • Cost: $24.95 for set day tickets and $34.95 for flex tickets
  • 10-Dilworth Park
    • Dilworth Park is a public space located near City Hall that offers fun throughout the year. The area features a cafe, lawn, tree groves, and a fountain the kids can enjoying running through and cool off on a hot day. In the winter months the area is turned into an ice skating rink.
      • Hours: 6am to 1am daily
      • Cost:Free
  • 11-Morris Arboretum
    • The Morris Arboretum, part of the University of Philadelphia, will bring the whole family close to nature with gardens, unique plant collections, fountains, and activities geared towards the whole family, including aboretum adventure and tree adventure.
      • Hours: Daily 10am to 4pm
      • Cost: $20 for adults and $10 ages 3 to 17
  • 12-Visit the Rocky Steps and Statue
    • Located outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art, you can visit the Rocky Steps and statue. Have your child climb the steps and pose for an epic photo.
      • Hours: No hours
      • Cost: Free
  • 13-One Liberty Observation Deck
    • Experience Philadelphia from the top with 360 views from the One Liberty Observation Deck. Opt for the Sun and Stars package and see the city in daylight and under the stars.
      • Hours: Daily from 10am to 8pm
      • Cost: $16 fro adults, $11 for children ages 3 to 11, and for the Sun and Stars package (two visits in 1 day) $22 for adults and $16 for children.

Historical Things to Do in Philadelphia with Kids

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  • 1-Once Upon a Nation Storytelling Benches
    • Get the kids involved in learning the history of Philadelphia through 13 benches located at historical points throughout the city. At each bench you will find a free 3 to 5 minute tale about a historic event in Philadelphia.
      • Hours: 11am to 4pm daily
      • Cost: Free
  • 2-Independence National Historic Park
    • Visit the Independence National Historic Park and view the Liberty Bell and tour Independence Hall. Both attractions are free of charge, but tickets for Independence Hall tours are given out on a first come, first serve basis (or you can reserve online for a small fee).
    • Liberty Bell
      • Hours:Daily 9am to 5pm
      • Cost: Free
    • Independence Hall
      • Hours: Daily 9am to 5pm
      • Cost: Free, but reserved tickets are available for $1 to ensure your tour time.
  • 3-The Betsy Ross House
    • Visit the home of the woman who designed the first American Flag, take a tour, and learn about the history of Betsy and her life.
      • Hours: 10am to 5pm daily, with extended hours to 6pm in the summer months
      • Cost: Audio Tour: $8 for adults, $7 for children Self guided tour: $5 for adults, $4 for children
  • 4-Independence Seaport Museum
    • A maritime museum that features interactive exhibits, galleries, and historic ships. In the warmer months take a boat tour down the Delaware River or rent a kayak.
      • Hours:Hours vary depending on the time of year and day of the week, visit their website for specific hours on the day you are visiting.
      • Cost: $18 for adults, $14 for children ages 3-17 and seniors
  • 5-Philadelphia Museum of Art
    • One of the largest art museums in the country, The Philadelphia Museum of Art features over 240,000 pieces of art over a 2,000 year span, with many famous names including van Gogh, Renoir, and Picasso.
      • Hours: 10am to 5pm, closed on Mondays, and extended hours on Wednesdays and Fridays 10am to 845pm.
      • Cost: $25 for adults, 18 and under free
  • 6-Fireman’s Hall Museum
    • A fire museum housed in a 1902 fire house, this museum will be a hit with any child interested in firemen and fire trucks.
      • Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 10am to 4pm
      • Cost: Free (but donations are encouraged)
  • 7-US Mint
    • Take your child on a self guided tour of the US Mint in Philadelphia and let them watch and learn how money is being created. Interactive exhibits allow you to learn about the history and process of producing money.
      • Hours: 9am to 4:30pm
      • Cost: Free

A Unique Experience

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Eastern State Penitentiary– Tour what is described as the first “real” penitentiary in the world at Eastern State Penitentiary. This was by far one of the most memorable experiences of visiting Philadelphia for me (an urban explorer), but it can be lots of fun for children as well-my daughter enjoyed it. You can tour the interior of the prison and view the remnants of the cell blocks that once housed prisoners, view the cell that was home to Al Capone during his stay at Eastern State, and wander the exterior court yards of the prison. The kids will love the open space to run and enjoy exploring all the old jail cells. Visit during October for a special Halloween experience.

  • Where: 2027 Fairmount Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19130
  • Hours: 10am to 5pm
  • Cost: General admission for adults is $14 and children is $10, under 7 is free.

Where to Eat in Philadelphia

Remember, this is a vegetarian’s blog….but I will not steer you away from trying a Philly cheesesteak while in Philadelphia. If that’s something you want to try-go for it! It is a classic Philadelphia food after all!

1.) Termini Brothers Bakery is an iconic Italian bakery located at (1523 S 8th St
Philadelphia, PA 19147). Stop in to try one of Philly’s famous cannolis or many other treats, such as torrone or zeppoli.

2.) John’s Roast Pork located at 14 Snyder Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19148, is home to both one of Philly’s best roast pork dishes (as the locals would say) as well as the Philly Cheesesteak.

3.) Center City Pretzel located at 816 Washington Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19147 is a local bakery that produces some of the best of Philly’s iconic soft pretzel’s. Be sure to stop in and grab yours.

4.) Vetri Cucina-the gold standard for dining in Philadelphia, located at 1312 Spruce St
Philadelphia, PA 19107. This option is pricey with the tasting menu being the only option (at $165), but the menu will be customized to each guest at the table. If you have some cash to spare this may be a great option for you.

Vegetarian/Vegan Restaurant Options

5.) Vedge (1221 Locust St, Philadelphia, PA 19107)-plenty of vegetable based dishes as well as tofu options.

6.) V Street (126 S 19th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103)-offers spicy vegan street food if international inspiration as well as unique cocktails.

7.) 20th Street Pizza (108 S 20th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103)-offers square pizza pies with multiple different toppings, such as meatless meatballs with pesto, cauliflower ricotta, tomato sauce, and so on.

Must Try Dishes

1-Philly Cheesesteak-again, a vegetarian so not something I would try, but this is the most iconic dish in Philadelphia and no guide to Philly would be complete without mentioning it. You can find cheesesteaks at many different locations throughout the city, but if you are a meat lover be sure to try at least one.

2-Crab Fries-crinkle cut french fries with a blend of crab spices and a white creamy cheese dipping sauce.

3-Soft Pretezels-another one of Philadelphia’s iconic food items are soft pretzels.

4-Snapper’s Soup-a soup made of turtle meat, vegetables, herbs, spices, hard boiled egg, and sherry that was a main dish of the historic Bookbinders seafood restaurant for many years.

5-Water Ice-the equivalent to Italian ice, freshly shaved ice mixed with fresh fruit or syrup is the perfect treat on a hot summer day in Philadelphia.

A Family Friendly Guide to Philadelphia, PA
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  1. These all sound great fun for kids (and for big kids too, like my husband 😉 )
    The Eastern State Penitentiary looks interesting, and there are sooo many fun-sounding museums, parks and animal-filled attractions! 😀

    p.s. Snapper soup sounds really interesting too, although I’m not sure I want to eat a poor turtle!

    • A lot of these attractions are kid friendly, but they are fun for adults to! Eastern State is a great, unique opportunity I definitely recommend. Personally I wouldn’t eat Snapper Soup either, but it is a popular dish there.

  2. Sounds like it’s a great place to take the kids! I’ll definitely have to add Philadelphia to my list x

  3. I watched a Nicolas Cage movie that takes place in Philadelphia when I was a kid, and since then I want to visit the Franklin Square and see the Liberty Bell 🙂 Thank for this detailed guide!

  4. I can’t believe I’ve never been to Philadelphia. You may have inspired me to check it out. Thanks for the heads up to get an early start!

  5. We did went to Philadelphia last summer but it’s only for a day trip. We’re able to find a parking in front the Liberty Museum. I’ll comeback in your page if we plan to go back in the future.

  6. Did most of these except for those with kids but more of the historical aspects, the penitentiary, religious aspects, and food. But you didn’t go to the Reading Market?

  7. Wow there are so many different options for activities! It’s nice there are plenty of free activities to pair with some of the pricier ones. How long do you need to stay in Philadelphia to experience all the highlights?

    • I would recommend at a minimum 2 days, and then you would not really be able to experience everything in depth. 4 to 5 days would give you more time to enjoy more of the museums.

  8. Philly was one of the first places I blogged about, so it holds a special place in my heart! There is so much to see and do, and I clearly need to go see some of those museums you mention! One Liberty Observation Deck also sounds very cool. I’d love to see the city from above, which is something I missed last time I was there.

  9. I didn’t know that there are so many things one can do in Philadelphia. I love that you included vegan and vegetarian restaurants. I do eat meat, but I love checking out what kind of vegetarian dishes are available in different countries.

  10. I have been to Liberty Bell, Independence Hall and Betsy Ross House a few times and I strongly recommend those to anyone, even if the wait may be long.
    Many of the other places that you recommend are new to me and I will try to see some of them the next time I come to Philly.

  11. I lived outside Philly for a few months and didn’t realize there were so many family-friendly attractions. I think a visit to the US Mint would be fun for all ages.

    • I never really thought of it as a family friendly destination until I started doing some research before deciding to go there, but it turned out to be a great destination

  12. I haven’t been to Philadelphia in so long! This was such a great guide for a family weekend stay here. I’ve heard of the eastern penitentiary but haven’t gone yet. I remember a few friends went during Halloween weekend and they had a good time.

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